Studying transdisciplinarity within interaction design labs

Terms like multidisciplinarity, interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity have recently been at the center of a lively debate among scholars and practitioners investigating the epistemological borders and practices of knowledge production. As a design anthropologist, I have recently joined Medea for my PhD with the aim of carrying out a study on transdisciplinarity within interaction design labs.

This is an introduction to Luca Simeone’s work. Simeone is a PhD student in interaction design at Malmö University’s School of Arts and Communication and will spend a good deal of time at Medea.

Terms like multidisciplinarity, interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity have recently been at the center of a lively debate among scholars and practitioners investigating the epistemological borders and practices of knowledge production. Light binding, transmuting dynamics and fluid transits among different disciplines seem to be crucial characteristics of most design labs operating within constructive design research framework.

Context of application is a crucial component
Transdisciplinarity is also one of the main components of what has been defined as ‘Mode-2’ scientific production (Gibbons et al. 1994). Mode-2 has been proposed as a new form of knowledge production that emerged in the late 20th Century in which the “context of application” is a crucial component of knowledge production processes and practices.

Traditional research (defined as Mode-1 knowledge production) is internally initiated in academic contexts by researchers and is carried out within disciplinary borders. On the contrary, Mode-2 knowledge production is context driven, and involves transdisciplinary teams brought together to respond to real-world problems and challenges.

Here to study transdisciplinarity within interaction design labs
As a design anthropologist, I have recently joined Medea for my PhD with the aim of carrying out a study on transdisciplinarity within interaction design labs.

My main focus is to select and analyze some labs that explore interaction design in a transdisciplinary fashion in order to trace and highlight their key organizational culture components. The idea is to investigate these design labs to see to what extent their organizational cultures favor trandisciplinarity and, if so, which components of the organizational culture have a bigger impact factor in fostering trandisciplinarity.

Medea will be both the main hub for my PhD and one of the labs to be investigated.

Over the past 15 years I have been carrying out constructive design research across academia and private sector (both through Vianet and FakePress), always trying to apply ethnographic methods to design practice.

This PhD project is then for me a sort of intersectional meander, where my academic background, my professional activities and my personal interests cross over hopefully generating unforeseen interconnections.

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Luca Simeone’s website

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